Monday, June 23rd
We have gone from counting down months to weeks to days and now we are counting down the hours until the 2014 NHL Entry Draft – 105 hours or less.
In this edition of the ramblings, I address questions posted from the DobberHockey Prospect Forum and want to personally thank each and every person who submitted a question. Look for this to become a regular element of my posted ramblings.
Here we go!
“How do you feel about this year’s draft class being considered by many as “weak”. In your opinion, is it a weak class compared to other draft years because there is no clear cut #1 pick, or do you think it’s a solid draft year filled with parity amongst the picks. I would love to hear your opinion on this year’s draft as a whole.”
The common opinion on this draft is that it is “weak”. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t some great players who will be available. I think that some of the knock against this crop is unfairly placed mainly because of how strong the 2013 NHL Draft class was with franchise type players in Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, Seth Jones and Aleksander Barkov. Moreover, the 2015 NHL Draft class isn’t helping the 2014 crop either with Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel and Noah Hanifin all available and looking like potential generational talents. Next year’s crop is setting up to be a truly outstanding class and it’s not overstating to say that it could be the best ever. There are likely 15 players who’d be considered a Top 5 pick if they were eligible in this year’s draft.
In saying that, the fact that the 2014 crop is sandwiched between two outstanding drafts isn’t helping its buzz. Overall, I do still think that the Ekblads, Bennetts, Reinharts, Draisaitls, Dal Colles and Ritchies all have star NHL potential but their NHL futures are a little less certain than we are used to with top 5 picks. The second tier of players (~6th -10th ) is composed of good talent that will become impact players. The draft drops off a bit after the first 9-10 picks and is composed of players (a bunch of them….maybe 30-40 players) that could fall in any sort of order. Don’t be shocked to see some players selected higher in this range than media anticipates. It’s wide open. You’ve been forewarned.
Where the draft is “weak” in my opinion, is on the blue line. There isn’t the normal depth of defensive prospects so I think you’ll see teams really value the defensemen with long-term projectable players. The Travis Sanheims, Jack Doughertys, Dominik Masins and Jacob Middletons have lots of promise and should be coveted.
I think this draft offers a unique opportunity to add some talented smaller players as investment assets. There’s quite a few of them!
I must say that one of the drafts strongest areas is in the goaltending department. It’s stronger than most years with lots of talent available. Thatcher Demko, Alex Nedeljkovic, Jonas Johansson, Ville Husso, Mason McDonald, Kaapo Kahkanen are all potential starters with Top 60 potential.
”Who is your non-first round sleeper from the OHL?
What are your thoughts on Ritchie?”
Eliminating Ekblad, Bennett, Ritchie, Dal Colle, Fabbri, Perlini, McCann, Goldobin, McKeown, DeAngelo, Lemieux, Cornel and Ho-Sang from discussion as they’ve all been considered first round talents, I would lean towards Alex Peters to be one name to watch. Peters projects as a stud shutdown defender and I love his NHL likelihood. Because he’s not overly offensive, I will give you guys a few more exciting “sleepers” to watch. Ryan Foss is a player to watch in the later rounds. Spencer Watson has shown the offensive skill and projects as a long-term prospect with a good ceiling. Keep an eye on defenseman Kyle Wood. If you want an industrious forward with a good projectable skill set, look at Jaden Lindo, Dylan Sadowy or Christian Dvorak (I really like this trio of players). Ryan MacInnis is arguably the best “sleeper” of the OHL class since he doesn’t project to be a first round selection but his size, skill and development curve is high.
If you’ve followed my work on twitter, you would know that I am a big fan of Nick Ritchie.
<blockquoteclass=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>AMEN RT <a href=”https://twitter.com/SeanLafortune”>@SeanLafortune</a>: I honestly would not be shocked in the slightest if Nick Ritchie becomes the best player in the draft.</p>— Brendan Ross (@RossyYoungblood) <a href